New Jersey brings to mind images of Trenton, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you’ll find in the good ole US of A.
However, like all states, New Jersey has certain places that are going on hard times. These places have an above average percent of people that are living in poverty, out of work, or not making as much as they should be.
With all the talk about income inequality going on around the country, we thought it prudent to take a look at the places in each state that are struggling to make it even as the economy continues to improve. So we set our sites on bringing attention to the places in New Jersey that could use a helping hand.
To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 190 places in New Jersey with more than 5,000 people.
We were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the Garden State for 2018:
- Camden (Photos)
- Atlantic City (Photos)
- Newark (Photos)
- Wildwood (Photos)
- Trenton (Photos)
- Asbury Park (Photos)
- Paulsboro (Photos)
- Bridgeton (Photos)
- East Orange (Photos)
- Pleasantville (Photos)
Again, this isn’t a commentary on the people that live there or the vibrant culture and traditions of these places. Instead, it’s just a look at the facts.
And according to the facts, Camden is the poorest place in New Jersey for 2018.
For more on how we calculated the top ten, and for more information about these places, read on.
How We Determined The Poorest Places In New Jersey For 2018
The first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they think about determining the poorest places is to simply the poverty rate. That is, the number of people living below a federally established level of income for a household of a certain size.
However, we don’t think that one statistic wholly encompasses what it means to be one of the ‘poorest places’. So we looked at this set of criteria from the newly released 2012-2016 American Community Survey:
- Poverty Level
- Median Household Income adjusted for the cost of living
- Unemployment Rate
The ‘median household income adjusted for the cost of living’ attempts to gauge how expensive it is to live in a place and how that impacts the quality of life. For example, a town might have fewer people living below the official poverty line, but the cost of living is so high they’d still feel poor.
The unemployment rate tries to capture the prospects for improvement in the city or town. If more people are employed, the brighter the future looks and vice versa.
After we collected the data for all 190 places with more than 5,000 people in New Jersey, we ranked each place from 1 to 190 for each of the criteria, with 1 being the poorest.
We then averaged all the rankings for a place into a ‘Poor Score’ with the place having the lowest overall Poor Score, Camden, crowned the ‘Poorest Place In New Jersey For 2018’.
You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 190 places.
Population: 76,005Median Income: $26,214
Unemployment Rate: 16.5%
Poverty Rate: 38.4%
Camden, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in New Jersey thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.
The city of 76,005 people averages the 1st lowest median household income in New Jersey and the 1st highest poverty rate. At the very least, the cost of living ranks in the bottom 15% of place in the state, so things like housing are relatively affordable.
2. Atlantic City
Population: 39,306Median Income: $26,566
Unemployment Rate: 15.7%
Poverty Rate: 36.6%
The second poorest city in New Jersey is Atlantic City.
The city ranks as having the 2nd highest incidence of poverty and 2nd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 6th highest in the Garden State.
Population: 280,139Median Income: $33,025
Unemployment Rate: 17.2%
Poverty Rate: 29.1%
Placing as the third poorest city, Newark’s median income ranks as the 4th lowest.
And that’s a sign that there’s a relatively substantial jump in the quality of the economy from second to third place on our list. The poverty rate is 29.1% and ranks near the bottom of places in the state.
But what makes up for the relatively low incomes of the city is its low cost of living. The income you do make here goes further than in most parts of the Garden State.
Population: 5,192Median Income: $28,271
Unemployment Rate: 17.3%
Poverty Rate: 27.3%
Wildwood ranks as the fourth poorest place in New Jersey.
The town ranks as having the 3rd lowest median household income and the 11th highest incidence of poverty in the state.
That being said, there’s still a ton of cultural diversity in the city as it hosts many events throughout the year.
Population: 84,559Median Income: $34,412
Unemployment Rate: 16.0%
Poverty Rate: 27.6%
The fifth poorest city in New Jersey is Trenton.
The city ranks as having the 7th lowest median income in the state. However, an extremely low cost of living prevents a good number of folks from living in poverty as the poverty rate only ranks as the 10th highest in New Jersey.
Still not the best news for Trenton.
6. Asbury Park
Population: 15,850Median Income: $36,512
Unemployment Rate: 12.7%
Poverty Rate: 30.6%
Asbury Park ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Garden State.
It ranks as having the 5th highest incidence of poverty and the 12th highest unemployment rate.
Population: 6,009Median Income: $42,154
Unemployment Rate: 15.4%
Poverty Rate: 29.2%
Paulsboro places as the seventh poorest city in New Jersey.
The city of over 6,009 ranks as having the 7th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.
Population: 25,209Median Income: $35,417
Unemployment Rate: 11.8%
Poverty Rate: 30.4%
Bridgeton ranks as the eighth poorest city in New Jersey.
The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 18th highest in the state.
9. East Orange
Population: 64,621Median Income: $38,403
Unemployment Rate: 16.9%
Poverty Rate: 20.2%
East Orange couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in New Jersey; it ranks number 9.
While the median income is the 10th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, East Orange ranks as having the 19th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in New Jersey.
Population: 20,532Median Income: $42,971
Unemployment Rate: 13.6%
Poverty Rate: 23.9%
And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in New Jersey is Pleasantville.
The city of 20,532 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Garden State.
There You Have It – The Poorest Places In New Jersey For 2018
Like we said earlier, when we set out to identify the poorest places in New Jersey, we weren’t sure what we’d encounter, but it ended up being some of the best places to live in New Jersey.
When you look at the data, the cities and places mentioned above meet the criteria for being at the very bottom of the income ladder for everyone that lives there.
If you’re curious enough, here are the richest cities in New Jersey, according to data:
Richest: Woodcliff Lake
2nd Richest: Bernardsville
3rd Richest: North Caldwell
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